- Reception and call quality No comments
- Display The best screen on any phone ever.
- Battery life No comments
- Camera No comments
- Ease of use No comments
- Design and form factor No comments
- Portability (size / weight) No comments
- Media support No comments
- Durability No comments
- Ecosystem (apps, accessories, etc.) No comments
When you first pick up the One you notice immediately how premium it feels. HTC sweated a lot of the small details here, from the unibody aluminum casing to the absolutely phenomenal 4.7-inch 1080p screen to the milling on the stereo speaker grills. They didn't cut corners or cheap out anywhere, and it's clear that HTC's designers and engineers put a lot of time and attention into crafting this phone.
There's a similar amount of thoughtfulness and care when it comes to the software as well. Like a lot of people, I tend to prefer the stock Android UI over whatever manufacturers come up with (I especially abhor Samsung's TouchWiz), but Sense 5 does improve upon Sense 4 in some meaningful ways. It probably says a lot that I haven't felt the need to install an aftermarket launcher like Nova, something I have been prone to do with other Android phones. This is largely because there's been a good deal of streamlining of the UI and improvements in the overall design (fonts and icons are generally better-looking, animations and transitions are smoother, stock apps are cleaner, etc.). Not that there aren't a few things I'd change -- I still find some of the icons to be a bit stodgy -- but it's a smaller list than I had for Sense 4, and overall everything seems to hang together better.
The biggest new feature in Sense is BlinkFeed, which turns your homescreen (or at least one panel of it) into a Flipboard-like stream of updates from social services like Twitter and Facebook and whole host of content partners. I like the forward thinking nature of BlinkFeed -- it's a recognition that a smartphone's homescreen shouldn't just be a static field of icons -- but I haven't found myself using it all that much, primarily because I already consume (and prefer to continue doing so) streams of news, content, and updates via Twitter and Google Reader-specific apps. But hardcore users like myself aren't really the target audience for something like BlinkFeed and I can see more casual consumers appreciating a phone that makes it very easy to keep tabs on Facebook and a handful of sites they follow. And at the very least you'll be impressed with the design of BlinkFeed, it's as slick as any news app I've used on a phone.
Probably my biggest concern when I started using the One was battery life. This is an issue for nearly every smartphone, but I found the battery life of the One X to be especially challenging, and I was worried that the One -- despite having a higher capacity battery -- would have similar problems. It's not especially scientific, but I like to test these things by just the phone for at least a week in the same way I always do, and I'm happy to report that battery life on the One is good. Since I still have to keep an eye on how my usage I don't think I would describe it as "excellent" -- I'd probably only put handsets like the Droid RAZR Maxx and the Samsung Note 2 in that category -- but so far I've been able to get through the day without running the battery down to zero. For me that's a marked improvement over the One X, DNA, and Nexus 4, none of which I was able to consistently get through an entire day without really cutting back on my usage.
I tested the One over multiple days with the power saver mode both enabled and disabled, and while initially I wasn't able to see much difference, after a couple of days I did see a modest improvement. Nothing dramatic, but just enough to make me a bit less stressed about getting through the day
One of the most widely touted features on the One is its new "ultrapixels" camera, which instead of cramming in more pixels, offers fewer, larger pixels that are supposed to be better in low light situations. I've found picture quality to be excellent, though while the shots I've taken with it have been good, I'm not 100% convinced that the One takes substantially better pictures than you'll get on say, an iPhone 5 or Nokia's Lumia 920.
It's stuff like HTC's new Zoe feature that will probably end up setting the One apart, rather than ultrapixels. Zoe-mode sort of combines taking a video and shooting pictures, you can shoot a quick three-second video while automatically snapping twenty pictures and then pick your favorite image from the results. I found myself using it all the time, though the one downside for me is that since I have my photos automatically uploaded to Google+ and Dropbox I have a ton more photos to wade through now. (Not that that's the end of the world.)
Another nifty little camera feature is Highlights, which takes the photos and videos you've shot at an event and combines them into a 30-second edited video complete with background music. I was a little skeptical about this, but I found it really fun to use and was surprisingly pleased with the end result, especially given that it takes zero effort to create a Highlight. Power users might not love it -- you can't add your own background music, only select from the options included -- but more casual users will like it.
Overall I'm really digging the One. It's an incredibly impressive device and one that hits all the right notes for me. The fit and finish of the hardware, the quality of the display, the camera, the speed of the OS, even the changes HTC has made to the UI all come together in a way that you rarely see in a gadget. If you're in the market for a smartphone, you should absolutely check out the One before you make your purchase.
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